April 13, 2011
"Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another — and all the more as you see the Day approaching." Hebrews 10:25 (NIV)
Do you ever catch yourself checking email repeatedly? One morning I checked my email as soon as I woke up. Then I made breakfast and checked it again. Had my devotional time and checked it again. Ran some errands and when I got home, checked it once more.
Now, I admit I have a thing about keeping white space in my inbox, but this was about more than managing emails.
I was going back for a reason. I sensed the Holy Spirit nudging me to pause and ask myself, "Why do you keep checking your email?"
I sat there and let my heart respond honestly. I wasn't sure if it was God or me answering, but my thoughts intertwined with His Spirit whispered: You keep coming back because your heart longs for connection with a friend.
Yet no matter how many times I checked email, it was never enough to satisfy my craving.
Somewhere in the busyness of life I had let many of my friendships reduce to quick connections via email. Over the past year my schedule had gotten so full with kids, school projects, family needs, investing time in my marriage, and new responsibilities at work that something had to give.
I didn't want it to be my family, so I asked God to help me find balance.
I had sensed Him leading me to cut back on the amount of time I spent talking on the phone, socializing with neighbors and hanging out with friends. Although I hadn't completely cut out my friendships, my face-to-face connection time with friends had been reduced to a minimum.
That morning as I sat at my computer, I realized I had not found balance. The pendulum had swung too far. Here I was checking email repeatedly, trying to fill a God-created need for relationships with a white screen and black alphabet keys.
My heart was craving more. God had revealed the source of my incessant email checking and shown me that I needed to fill the lonely place in my spirit with friends I could talk to and share life with — in person.
That day I called one of my closest friends. She happened to be available so I turned off my computer and took a break from work to spontaneously meet her at a coffee shop.
It was just what I needed: face-to-face, heart-to-heart, eye-to-eye connection and conversation.
I know friendships are not easy to build. They take time. And time is limited with lives that keep us so busy. But in this age of technology, it's important to evaluate things in our lives that create a false sense of connection like email, television, text messaging and overboard activities.
Although these things are okay in moderation, they can't substitute real-life relationships.
So what about long-distance and internet friendships? Aren't they important, too? Yes, they are. But God created us for relationships where we can see each other, hug each other and talk to each other face-to-face.
We need to pull away from our computers and televisions to intentionally carve out time for friends that are in close proximity. Times where we can meet face-to-face to share what's going on in our lives. Today's key verse instructs us not to give up meeting together to worship and encourage one another. As we see here and throughout the Bible "meeting together" is important to God.
Jesus needed face-to-face connections, too. So He surrounded Himself with intimate friends — first His Father, then His close friends John, Peter and James and then the other nine disciples.
He also had friends like Mary, Martha and Lazarus. People He spent time with sharing meals and having conversations about spiritual truths that applied to their everyday lives. Through His example we see how important it is to satisfy our craving for connections by spending face-to-face time with friends.
So, who will you connect with face-to-face this week?
Dear Lord, You created me with a need for friends. Yet, I find myself rushing through my days with little time for heart-to-heart connections. Help me to seek You first as my ultimate Friend, and then reach out to others so I can have and be a close friend. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
Visit Renee's Blog and enter to win her "Friendship Gift Pak" that includes an advanced copy of Renee's upcoming book A Confident Heart as well as a Starbucks gift card to share with a friend.
Girlfriends RoadTrip message on CD by Renee Swope Learn how to connect to the heart of God and other women by looking at and learning from Jesus' closest friendships.
Find more encouragement through Renee's Resources.
Make a list of one or two friends you enjoy being with. Call them on the phone to encourage them and set up a time to get together.
If you're not sure who to call, ask God to show you someone you can begin a friendship with. Invite them to join you for lunch or to go for a walk together this week.
How often do I check email or my Facebook page? Do I crave connection?
What are some steps I can take this week to develop a new friendship or strengthen an old one?
Ecclesiastes 4:9-10, "Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up!" (NIV)
"I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you." John 15:15b (NIV)
© 2011 by Renee Swope. All rights reserved.
Proverbs 31 Ministries
616-G Matthews-Mint Hill Road
Matthews, NC 28105
Originally published Wednesday, 13 April 2011.